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Piranha Owner Named League Commissioner

November 08, 1996|DAVE McKIBBEN

ANAHEIM — David Baker, managing owner of the Piranhas, was announced Thursday as commissioner of the Arena Football League. Baker, the fourth commissioner in the league's 11-year history, will divest his ownership in the Piranhas. Unlike major league baseball, an Arena Football League owner cannot be commissioner of the league, acting or full-time.

David Wilson, owner of four car dealerships in Orange County, replaces Baker as managing owner of the Piranhas. Wilson and Robert Zinngrabe, an original Piranha owner, will buy out Baker and will own more than 50% of the team.

Baker, who replaces Jim Drucker as the AFL's commissioner, had been the league's president and chairman of its board of directors. He was approved Monday as commissioner at the AFL's annual board of directors meeting in Nashville. Baker was given a three-year contract by league owners.

"I've got a real vision for what Arena Football can be," Baker said. "As our season progressed with the Piranhas, I found myself spending more time on the national level than on the day to day."

Baker said the league took an important step Tuesday when it welcomed the New York CityHawks into the league.

"That's the first new team in Madison Square Garden in the last 50 years," Baker said. "I'm real thankful for the people I've been associated with in Anaheim, but I also think this is a great opportunity for taking this sport into more cities and to national television. I'm going to miss that competition, but I want to take this league to another level."

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